Making It Work: Giant high-tech moving statue is going global

Entrepreneur Paddy Dunning says his ten-storey-tall figures with ‘skin’ of millions of programmable LED pixels will be in 21 locations by the end of the year

Paddy Dunning is in talks with 50 potential clients. Picture: Barry Cronin

The Giant, a new super-sized visitor attraction billed as the “world’s tallest moving statue,” is set to go global.

Unveiled a month ago by Irish entrepreneur Paddy Dunning, the design for the towering ten-storey figure garnered headlines here and overseas.

Dunning said he “spent a lot of time and money” developing and securing a patent for the statue’s surface technology.

Made from a matrix of millions of programmable LED pixels, this unique coating allows the statue to assume the appearance of any person – a historical figure, for example, or a sports star or celebrity.

“We worked on the skin with a company called Dan Pearlman in Berlin. We tried lots of different ideas, but the LED pixel matrix was the one that really worked,” Dunning said.

The process of designing the skin took a number of years.

“The matrix skin is linked to a controller, which allows you to scan the image of any person. The graphics are endless,” he said.

Having begun his career in entertainment more than 25 years ago, Dunning knows a lot about the value of perseverance in business.

“It really matters. That’s what I’ve found. You just have to keep pushing and pushing everyday. Treat people the way you’d want to be treated yourself, but keep persevering. Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” he said.

In 1995 Dunning co-founded the Temple Bar Music Centre, which was rebranded as The Button Factory in 2007.

He also owns Grouse Lodge, a recording studio near Rosemount in Co Westmeath, and bought The Wax Museum in Dublin in 2009, relocating it twice from its original site near Parnell Square, first to College Green and then to O’Connell Bridge.

With The Giant Company, Dunning’s vision stretches far beyond the Irish market, however.

He has partnered with CBRE, the US-headquartered property firm, to find potential sites for The Giant in locations around the world.

He said he was in talks with 50 potential clients.

“The plan is to have 21 giants on the ground by the end of the year,” he said.

Each giant will cost between €15 million and €20 million to erect, according to Dunning, and will include ground-level visitor centres, shops and cafés.

He is predicting annual revenues of €12 million for each one, based on an anticipated 500,000 visitors per year at each site.

“We’re talking to tourist authorities, city planners and councils, chambers of commerce, stadia and museums – anyone who wants to increase footfall in a given area,” he said.

Dunning has so far invested more than €1 million into developing The Giant and launching his latest company with support from Enterprise Ireland, the state agency.

“We engaged with Enterprise Ireland back in 2014 to help us with our feasibility study. They gave us two grants early on,” he said.

“Now, they’re helping us to move the project to the next level. We’ll be working with their offices around the world to find clients.”